How to be a stay-at-home mom without losing your marbles

How to be a SAHM without losing your marbles.

We stay-at-home moms know we are blessed to be home with our littles, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t faced with the challenge of not just surviving—but actually thriving—while surrounded by cracker crumbs and matchbox cars and laundry that multiplies every single time your back is turned.

Every working mom has challenges, but today I want to look at the challenge of staying sane as the stay-at-home variety of working mom.

After 17 years in the workforce I was so excited to switch gears and stay home when I started to have babies. Now three-and-a-half years on I can easily say that staying home with my kids is the best and hardest job I’ve ever had. It’s physically exhausting, mentally challenging, emotionally taxing, and can be very lonely at times. Things have gotten easier since that first year of shock and transition, but a large part of that has come as a result of putting most of these practices into place. I’m a far better mom because I’ve learned how to better take care of myself and manage my days.

I hope these tips will inspire and encourage you in your own season of being home with your children. May you be empowered, dear mama, as you build practices into your days to help you keep your sanity during the ‘little years’.

Readers tips for staying sane on the job:

1. Find some outlets that don’t have to do with being a mom.

Queenie from the PLANET pinkFor me, sanity relies A LOT on having outlets that help to define me outside of being a mama.  The first time I was a SAHM I was shocked to discover that it didn’t really fulfill me the way I expected it to.  I loved it of course, but I soon realized that although being a mama and staying home with my kids is one of the most important parts of me (and certainly consumes the most time), it is not the only part.  If that was all I was, you would see my sanity drowning in the laundry and dishes. So I’ve actively been seeking creative outlets that I enjoy.  Some of them do revolve around being a mother (like blogging for example), but not all of them do, like church and my childbirth educator certification.  But put them all together and you get a well-rounded me who is happy with where I am in life.

Sarah from Four Leaf PhotographyI worked full time until my oldest was 1 and then went to part time and then quit when #2 was born.  It was really hard so I always tell people considering it to make sure they get a hobby.  Literally.  If it weren’t for my photography I wouldn’t have gotten through the first year.  Play dates are good but when you’re used to being challenged mentally everyday at work, you need something to keep that going.

2. Create some structure for your day.

Cameron from Ingenue MomI found that having some sort of structure to my day really helped me. That’s one of the reasons why we chose to do more of a routine with Isis. It kept me sane & allowed me to be a better mom. If I knew “okay, she’s going to take a nap next & I’m going to do dishes & laundry” then it helped me break up my day.

3. Get out of the house.

Livy from Making Over MumGetting outside lots and lots! I start to go a little stir crazy if I go to many days without an outing!

Teaching Tiny Tots said: I found that taking an outing almost every day really helped especially since we had just moved to a new city.  It was a little intimidating in a large city with newborn twins but also fun to explore as well.  We received a great deal of attention and it was nice to talk to new people.

4. Take time for yourself and connect with girlfriends.

Michele from Misadventures of An Army Momma With Two Under 2Be sure you get time to yourself, whether that’s all by yourself or with a bunch of girlfriends. You need to keep being yourself and not just the mom with the kids!

5. If you work from home, try alternating blocks of time to work and play.

Kerry from Nesting with NiallI initially thought that working from home was a dream come true – I could avoid the costs of day care and spend more time with my baby. What I didn’t realize was that working from home means ignoring the baby who is sitting next to you with the puppy dog eyes begging to play with you. I’ve found that I have to switch gears every hour. I’ll work for an hour and then play with Niall for an hour. It’s just not fair to leave him sitting there, bored and unstimulated, for long periods of time.  It’s also a nice break for me to get outside for a nice little walk/playtime.

6. Get active and do some exercise.

Jhen of From Here to EternityI love to do those Dancing With the Stars workout DVDs to keep my body moving and learn and little dance moves!

Mandy from It’s a Beautiful LifeI stay sane by keeping busy! My baby boy and I get our and about quite a bit. And when we’re home – we’re playing together. When he’s napping, I’m blogging!

And some of my own tips for staying sane on the job:

7. Spend time playing with your child.

Obviously the baby needs to be fed. The laundry needs to be done. The floor needs to be swept. Those tasks come with the territory of being a SAHM (or any mom for that matter). But I find that if I don’t spend deliberate time every day playing with my kids, I end up getting really stressed (and bored) with all the chores and maintenance of day-to-day housekeeping and toddler wrangling. I need to get down on the floor, sing some songs, stack some blocks, play dinosaurs, do some crafts or coloring, play a simple board game, or do some physical play like hide and seek. And I don’t just mean playing when they get cranky and begin demanding attention, but taking time to play with them while they are already happy so we can simply enjoy each other. On especially stressful days, playing with my kids is my saving grace. It gives me a chance to laugh and enjoy the moment, and it always brings things back into perspective, helping me remember why I decided to stay home in the first place.

8. Have blocks of time allocated for work that needs undivided attention.

I am a project-oriented person. When I was single there were many times where I would start a project at work and be so into it that I would burn the midnight oil just because I was on a roll and didn’t want to stop. As a SAHM with littles, I’ve learned that I have to try to do everything in short increments and–like it or not–always be prepared for an interruption or a change of plans. I miss having long blocks of time to just “get stuff done”. About once a month on a Saturday I take a “work” day to do all sorts of things that require the kind of focus that stopping and starting just won’t allow. My husband takes care of the kids from morning until night – every naptime, diaper change, cooking, housework… all of it. He loves the change of pace he gets and I lock myself in the office and work without interruption! I love being able to look forward to these long days and can usually accomplish in a day what would otherwise take me an entire week of stopping and starting and working in the margins.

9. Spend time thinking about the “why’s” of parenting and not just the “how’s”.

When Levi (my first born) was a baby I realized that I was constantly online and reading books about how to take care of him – things about breastfeeding, preparing baby food, helping him sleep, developmental stages, etc. If I wasn’t taking care of him I was reading and thinking about how to take care of him. Not good! The thing is, I really enjoy reading about parenting and development so in a sense it was fun for me… but I realized I needed to find some balance. I began incorporating other books that helped spur me to thing about the why’s of parenting and also deliberately began reading books about my own spiritual development. It helped me to gain perspective and become a better person, not just better parent. (For some great books to help you think about the “why’s” I recommend Loving Your Kids on Purpose and Sacred Parenting. Both are excellent.)

10. Debrief with your husband/partner/support person.

When Ryan comes home from work I try not to bombard him with the details of my day before he has a chance to set his keys down… but he knows that if I don’t debrief and report how my day went to another adult at some point during the evening, I will most likely implode. Sharing some of what happened through the day is validating for me and helpful for me in making the transition from “mom mode” to “wife and friend” mode.

11. Be deliberate to not always be multi-tasking.

If you’re like me, then time is precious and there’s never enough of it! I’m constantly multi-tasking, whether it’s checking emails on my phone while I nurse my son, making a phone call while taking them on a walk, or doing the dishes while eating lunch. At times it’s a must and helps me to stay on top of things, but at other times it just means I’m spreading myself too thin and doing an average job at a bunch of things rather than a good job at a few things. One thing I’ve especially had to put boundaries around is how I’m using my phone.

12. Get showered and dressed and ready for the day each morning.

It’s so tempting to spend all day looking like I just rolled out of bed, but I’ve found that just by getting up and showered and (sometimes) putting on a little make-up, I move through my day much more easily. When I’m showered and dressed and looking fresh, I feel good physically and my mind actually feels sharper.

13. Find a moms group or play group that you enjoy.

Play groups are for moms! Before I had a child I used to think play groups sounded so boring… but now I get it! I love getting together with other moms who have children similar in age to mine… for adult conversation, swapping tips and stories about the kids, and just getting out of the house in general.

Dear friends, I’ve brushed this post up from the archives after thinking a lot lately and wondering if I’m doing the stay-at-home mom thing well.  I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. How do you stay sane as a stay-at-home mom? Can you relate to any of these? Do you have any tips that you’d like to add? And the real question: do you ever feel like you’re losing your marbles??

Love Adriel x


31 Days of Women Empowering Women at


This post is part of a series called 31 Days of Women Empowering Women. See hundreds of incredible #31Days projects here.

About Author

Adriel Booker is an author, speaker, and advocate based in Sydney, Australia who believes storytelling, beauty, and the grace of God will change the world. Adriel has become a trusted voice in areas of motherhood and parenting, Christian spirituality, and global women's issues. She's also known for her work with the Love A Mama Collective—serving under-resourced women in developing nations through safe birth initiatives—as well as her years spent as a Bible teacher and leadership coach. Her latest book is Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss and she's made the companion grief journal available for free. Find Adriel across all social media platforms at @adrielbooker or sign up for LoveNotes, Adriel's 'secret posts' that aren't published anywhere else online. ✌️


  • ~Jamie Kubeczka~
    7 September 2010 at 1:52 pm

    These are some great ideas!

  • Mandy
    7 September 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Fabulous tips. The getting showered and dressed for the day, every day, is something I need to work on. I tend to just hang out in my PJ's all day cause it's comfy and easy.
    And play groups are a MUST! I have several and they are fantastic for mommy time and baby time! Love this series!!

  • ElissaM
    7 September 2010 at 6:43 pm

    this is a great post! I definitely needed to hear all the advice since I have recently become a "single" stay at home mom when my hubby deployed. I definitely try to get into my routine which helps A TON and I am stoke it is fall…a new season for a new season in my life! Thank so much!

  • Amy
    7 September 2010 at 9:33 pm

    This was great! I of course haven't delivered my baby and thus, have not made the decision to work or stay at home, but this was good insight. How did everyone make the decision? I guess that's what I need to know.

    Adriel, I LOVED your post on Cameron's site today. It really helped me as a pregnant chick! Thanks!

  • Ana
    7 September 2010 at 9:57 pm

    You inspired me to write my Top 10 Mommy Resolutions! And my #1 thing: getting dressed and making my bed before getting out of the room 🙂

  • Eastlyn and co.
    8 September 2010 at 4:08 am

    I like your tips, Adriel-so important to keep everything in perspective and be intentional about how you go about your day. You may be able to share some of your insights at TVs Take:

  • Karli
    8 September 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Adriel, I LOVE these goodies! What great tips – thanks so much for sharing! 🙂 I was actually stopping by to congratulate you…did you see both of our names on Mandy's blog? She's so sweet! Just wanted to say congrats! 🙂 Happy Wednesday!

  • Cameron
    9 September 2010 at 1:54 am

    I relate with so many of these moms! I also think it's funny that you mentioned taking a shower & getting ready everyday. I made more of an effort to do this those first few weeks after Isis came home because it made me feel normal. This summer when I was staying home, I'd sometimes do an every other day kind of shower thing, but I always put on makeup. Makeup & fixing my hair are my "hey I'm here & I'm doing this & I'm okay" kind of actions. Definitely makes me feel more alert & active.

  • Brandy
    9 September 2010 at 12:46 pm

    You have created such an awesome community! So much great advice!
    You should be writing articles for parenting and mommy magazines Adriel.

  • Livy
    9 September 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Great advice! I too need to shower and get dressed everyday. I actually feel more productive. There are a lot of things on this list that I need to work on.

    I am really enjoying this series so far.

  • Melissa (Confessions of a Dr. Mom)
    10 September 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I love these survival tips! I always feel so much better when I shower and get ready in the morning. It makes me feel like normal 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing these Adriel!

  • A Little R&R
    17 September 2010 at 7:49 pm

    I seriously wish I had a printer!!! This is so good – it's staying starred in my Google Reader!

  • Jessica W
    2 November 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Love these tips! I think #9 is my favorite. The why is so important in the midst of the madness. Thank you friend!
    Jessica W recently posted..A River Runs Through It: #Allume Conference RecapMy Profile

  • Lisa @bitesforbabies
    2 November 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Great tips…although I just don’t think I could ever be cut out to be a SAHM! My husband works from home and even though I don’t ask for help, when I am in DESPERATE need, he is there! Kudos to EVERY single parent out there…you are my heros!!!!!
    Lisa @bitesforbabies recently posted..Bye-Bye “Bottomless Pit!”My Profile

  • Go Ask Mum
    15 November 2013 at 9:51 am

    Wow you have got so many women together and created a masterpiece of advice. Unbiased and different opinions . What a great article. When being a SAHM its always good to have organisation.A to-do list of some sorts. Just so that you can time manage everything around your child, as we all know fitting a child around your schedule is just not possible. Its all about balance and making sure that you have some valued, relaxing “you time” every day. Yes, every day. Be it five minutes or 2 hours. Run a bath and get your OH to look after the child. Just make sure you have balance and you can stay sane.

    • Adriel
      15 November 2013 at 2:27 pm

      I agree! Even if you can only manage a few minutes it’s so important!! 🙂 Thanks for reading GAM.

  • Tobias
    11 December 2013 at 8:00 am

    I showed this to my wife, but she was not that serious about it ^^

  • […] 77. Being a stay-at-home-mom is the only job in the world that doesn’t come with coffee breaks, lunch breaks, weekends, holidays, or sick days. And there’s nothing you can do about it except to learn to roll with it. You really can learn to be a SAHM without losing your marbles. […]

  • NaDell
    13 January 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Make/Prepare dinner at lunchtime or naptime and put it in the fridge (whether in a pan or cutting chicken and veggies). Then during the afternoon you don’t have to worry about it and can just pull it out and put it in the oven or cook it on the stovetop.

  • SofiaWr
    23 April 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Stay at Home Mom’s are the best. But it is not just those first years that are important to kids. Mine always remind me how they loved it when they were in school and come home at the end of the day and I was there to listen to how there day went.
    Sometimes as parents we think that those first years are the most important ones to spend with your kids. In reality do you remember the first 5 years of your life?
    But we sure remember those years after we started school. If you can get through those first 5 years it does get easier, teen years are more mental, staying ahead of there thinking.
    Thank Adriel for sharing a mothers world.
    SofiaWr recently posted..Heuraufe,Futterraufe, Kaninchen,Kaninchenraufe, Futter.KäfigMy Profile

    • Adriel
      5 May 2014 at 11:19 am

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Sofia! I certainly have very few memories from my first five years BUT I do believe they lay the foundation for everything else. 🙂 I’m glad you’ve found fulfillment in serving your kids as a SAHM. Certainly our teenagers need present mothers just as much as our toddlers!! Good on you.
      Adriel recently posted..Love A Mama in Nepal by making clean birth kits this Mother’s DayMy Profile

  • shah
    7 May 2014 at 10:46 pm

    You have created such an awesome community! So much great advice! This is so good – it’s staying starred in my Google Reader! . nice moments and millions of thanks to Adriel
    shah recently posted..Environmental Education in Pinellas CountyMy Profile

  • […] crazy sitting inside the house every day with the same monotonous routine, so it is a good idea to get outside and change your scenery. Even taking a daily short walk outside will help clear your mind and break […]

  • Katy
    27 July 2014 at 11:26 am

    I am a stay at home mom by day and a Stage Manager of a children’s theatre by night. I relish in drinking coffee, even before I had my son. So trust me when I say missing a coffee break is a big deal. My husband bought me a Keurig for Christmas last year and I must say it has been worth it. The coffee practically brews itself and I can do it with one hand! I used to think they were really silly and over priced but if you buy the K-cups in bulk from Bed Bath and Beyond (usually with one of those 20% off coupons) your really not spending much more then you would on regular coffee and you can get a bunch more flavors. Just a tip from one SAHM/WM to another.

  • Laura
    30 September 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Great advice – really enjoyed this piece.
    Laura recently posted..BloglovinMy Profile

  • Jo
    21 January 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Thank you for this post that I so desperately needed to read. I’m finding being a sahm hard right now but you’ve given me some tips to make changes that will improve how I am as a mum, a friend and a wife 🙂

  • Fajar Hudy
    17 April 2015 at 11:33 pm

    Very inspiring and very very helpful. thanks. 😉
    Fajar Hudy recently posted..interior decorating help onlineMy Profile

  • Chelsea
    5 July 2015 at 7:08 am

    Thanks so much for this encouraging post. Its so encouraging to realize I’m not alone when my marbles are feeling loose at being surrounded by my lovely ankle biters all day 😉

  • Janelle Bowdle
    9 October 2015 at 11:09 am

    This is such a truthful post.. I’ve almost lost my mind I feel. I get so bored and stir crazy. I just can’t do whatever I want like it was before I had a baby, and that’s been hard for me to adjust to. I totally agree that getting dressed and ready everyday is helpful. I also agree with joining a moms group, but where on earth do you find them? I found one group on, but I requested to join months ago and no one has either accepted or declined me. Does anyone know any better places to find a moms group? It gets pretty lonely here..

  • Bibi
    17 October 2015 at 4:03 am

    Thanks for sharing! Wish I followed a lot of these things from day 1.

  • margaret
    7 January 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Yep, my marbles are gone. lol. I know what I need to do to help myself out, but it’s just getting into habits and routines. Starting those things are hard, but once it gets going things will be much better.
    I hate the cold, so getting out of the house right now is not happening. My husband has the car all day, so our only option is a walk. Maybe we’ll have a warm day soon and I’ll attempt a walk. 🙂

  • Meah
    5 February 2016 at 4:59 pm

    This is a great read. It will be most helpful I’m sure for when I have my first who is due in March. Trying to stay sane through all the chaos of having a newborn is quite a daunting thought.

  • India Wardell
    24 August 2016 at 3:01 am

    I agree that this was a really good post. This is my second round with being a stay at home mom, but with my third baby. I went back to work once my middle kiddo was old enough for preschool. I plan to make the most out of this time and not get overwhelmed. I liked that you pointed out play time. My first go round I didnt play with my daughter, I just took care of her needs and busied myself around the house and maybe found some playdates when I could. I’ll do better now and enjoy my kids.

    Thanks so much


  • Lucy Njoora
    27 October 2016 at 11:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing great tips I’ll add some of the tips that are not on my list. Am a mom of two and I’ve been a stay at home mom for the last five years and am happy for being one. Maybe I would like to share my tips that have made me be a successful stay at home moms for those years without being bored.

  • Heidi Weaver
    12 April 2017 at 8:27 pm

    As a mom of 5 and former homeschooler – this is the best list I’ve ever come across by far. Nailed it.

  • Rachel Lannister
    28 April 2017 at 6:24 am

    I absolutely loved your advice about connecting with your girlfriends, and taking some time for yourself. I have a couple kids, and I wanted to make sure I was doing the best I could. I’ll have to find some more articles and sites that could give me great advice like the stuff you mentioned.

  • Undine
    29 November 2017 at 3:23 pm

    I loved reading this advice. It was very insightful. I have a 9mth old hogh maintenance baby and am a SAHM and to be honest, I’m struggling. I’m lucky to get a shower once a week. I have zero alone time. Im awak at 5:30 every morning and finishing up the last of the crap at 9pm before i crumble onto the couch and fall asleep within an hour of sitting. Then ontop of having no me time, my partner wants to get handsy and just doesnt seem to get the fact that if i have no energy to take care of me that i have nothing left for him. I don’t remember the last time i had a recharge sleep in. I haven’t brushed my hair in 2 days. Dont remember the last time i had a shower without the baby screaming in the background. This is my 2nd, and he’s hard work.

    • Adriel Booker
      25 January 2018 at 10:41 am

      I hear you and I recognize the struggle. Have you had a heart-to-heart with your partner to discuss how you feel and see if you can brainstorm ways together to address your fatigue? I’m so glad some of these ideas helped. Please take care of yourself. x

    • snookerly
      8 September 2018 at 4:57 pm

      This feels so like me for the last 1 year. The tips in here are awesome, I planned my time better now and I have some free hours for myself. I figured out I could easily slip into depression and had to get a way out of it. Thanks for sharing

  • Faisal Ahmed
    21 December 2017 at 9:15 pm

    Fantastic.. I’ve to say this information truly helps me a great deal

  • Linda Deloatch
    12 July 2018 at 4:54 pm

    It was very insightful.I absolutely loved your advice about connecting with your girlfriends, and taking some time for yourself.Thanks for sharing great tips I’ll add some of the tips that are not on my list.
    Linda Deloatch recently posted..Best Baby Bottle Sterilizer in 2018 fix: Reviews with Buying GuideMy Profile

  • safedoom
    8 September 2018 at 4:52 pm

    This is so amazing! I have been staying at home now for 2 years and I was looking for something new to do. I stumbled on this and it is such an inspiration for me.


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